When you get no feedback on how you're doing....


....how do you know how you're doing?

At five months off orientation, I've gotten a few "atta girl"s and "good job"s, but I just don't really know how it's going. I'm feeling like I need to solicit some feedback.

What do you think, is no news good news? Would I know if I was bombing? Is it possible to be doing a good job and rarely hear about it, or is that an ominous sign?

roser13, ASN, RN

6,504 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho, ASC. Has 17 years experience.

My husband told me once that it is a known phenomenon in management that those who have just graduated from school and are newly employed often have trouble making adjustments to the lack of consistent feedback/praise.

It makes sense - for most of your life, you've received regular feedback (positive or negative) by way of grades quizzes, tests, papers, etc., not to mention report cards. You're rewarded at the end of every class by movin' on up to the next class.

I would definitely say that in your opinion, no news is good news. I don't know if I'd ask anyone's feedback on your performance - you might appear to be a little needy. Do you have a 6-month performance evaluation or review coming up?

Ivanna_Nurse, BSN, RN

1 Article; 469 Posts

Specializes in CCU MICU Rapid Response. Has 18 years experience.

I agree, and have felt the same. Okay so lets see...

They let you off orientation, to be on your own.

You have gotten some good feedback, although not official.

No reprimands or incidents?

I am sure that you are fine. They are sitting back to watch you find your wings and fly.

If you were failing horribly they would intervene.

Your 6 month eval will clear your worries. :) Its all good, Ivanna


71 Posts

Specializes in burn unit, ER, ICU-CCU, Education, LTC. Has 26 years experience.

Virgo RN;

If you haven't heard anything bad and haven't been written up, I am fairly certain you are doing very well. I have a long explanation for why I believe this. Every nurse should understand the unemplyment insurance system and methods employers use to reduce their experience rating to reduce their unemployment insurance expenses.

The law can be found for Illinois in the "Illinois Insurance Law Handbook". Basically, the larger the amount of unemployment benefits paid to the former employees of a business, the higher the rate that employer pays for unemployment insurance. The fed and state govs both require employers to pay into the pool.

If an employee quits, it is unlikely that the employee can collect benefits. If the employer terminates the employee for cause, and the employee cannot prove they were terminated without a good reason, the employee gets no benefits. If an employer lays off an employee and admits the reason is to reduce payroll, the employee does get benefits.

With this system, the honest employer is penalized. There are perverse incentives for employers who want to reduce payroll to try to make employees quit. If they must terminate an employee because they can't make the employee quit, they try to make the employee appear to be incompetent, a poor communicator, impaired, etc.

This is why employers don't usually write "glowing" reviews or give praise in front of others. More likely, a negative paper trail is created to present when the payroll needs to be cut in order to support "termination for cause."

This system is very stressfull for all employees because it undermines confidence, especially in younger workers or workers new on the job. But I believe it is especially stressful for nurses. I believe this because in addition to being responsible for financially supporting their families, they are responsible for the lives and health of human beings.

When employers try to make a nurse quit, they often put patients at risk. When an employer terminates a nurse, you put the nurse at risk, especially now that employers are supposed to report terminations to the Board of Nursing.

One example was when I was a Director of Nursing and was told to terminate the employment of a P.M shift RN who had been employed for about four months. She was in her fifties and had left public health nursing to work in long term care. She had trouble organizing med passes and treatments for a while. But I worked with her and she was doing very well. She was well liked by staff and patients.

I was told to terminate her for the untrue reasons the administrator gave me, or he would terminate my employment. I had to let him terminate me rather than to do an evil thing like that. I found another job within a few weeks and did qualify for unemployment. The employer had tried to say I was terminated for being a "poor communicator," or something vague like that. But I lost a week of pay due to Illinois' sytem of not paying the first week of unemployment.

Another example is of a Director of Nursing trying to make me quit. I was a staff nurse and was earning the rate of the experienced RN salary. I had just trained a new grad who was supposed to work my days off. The DON came to work at 11 PM, the start of my shift, to tell me that the new grad who had been scheduled off was going to be charge.

She told me that my job was to clean the six medication carts with a toothbrush. She handed me the toothbrush and a bucket. She said she would be back in the morning to evaluate my cleaning assignment. All the carts were kept in the med room at night. I pulled up a stool and started to work.

The LPN and aides asked me why I was going along with it. I answered, "If they want to pay me RN wages to do this, why should I object". I knew what was coming. They terminated me for vague reasons that sounded horrible on the surface. I won at the hearing and did get my unemployment.

I had been working with one experienced LPN and seven CNAs for a facility of 50 medicare and over 200 LTC patients on nocs. The new grad quit soon after, and so did the next new grad, and the next new grad. I had friends at the facility who told me they finally had to employ two RNs and two LPNs to stabilize the shift.

I hope this helps you understand why an experienced nurse will say "no news is good news". Any time there is a comment or question about your care, write down your side of it in a spiral notebook when you get home in case you need to defend yourself at a future date.

This new threat of reporting terminations to the Board of Nursing may cause more nurses to quit rather than be terminated. This was well thought out to keep health care costs lower at nurses' expense. I hope nurses stand together and help each other.


36 Posts

Specializes in picc certified. Has 17 years experience.

Your fine ,unfortunatly you'll see what happens when the newbe doesnt get it,nurse dont eat their young but some leave scars.

Editorial Team / Moderator

Lunah, MSN, RN

33 Articles; 13,741 Posts

Specializes in EMS, ED, Trauma, CNE, CEN, CPEN, TCRN. Has 15 years experience.

Virgo, I think it is indeed a case of "no news is good news." As a still-new-ish nurse, I like feedback too, so I'll go to some of the nurses I trust every once in a while to get feedback. I've actually had one complaint during my time as an RN, and that was that I wasn't doing enough to help others when my patients were all caught up. At first, I was kind of mad -- this came out of the blue. But then I looked at it like this: Hey, if they think I have time to help, then I must be managing my patient load very well! Go me! I think part of me was worried about "leaving" my patients (our ER is small, so it's not like I'm ever really that far from them) because something might come up, or a new order would be written and I'd miss it. So yeah, I probably was focusing on only my patients, and not the department as a whole, as is our ER's philosophy. So I've made it a point to ask others if they need help when I'm caught up, even if it's something as quick and simple as doing an EKG or a splint (especially on the days when we are tech-less!).

Ruby Vee, BSN

67 Articles; 14,022 Posts

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.
....how do you know how you're doing?

at five months off orientation, i've gotten a few "atta girl"s and "good job"s, but i just don't really know how it's going. i'm feeling like i need to solicit some feedback.

what do you think, is no news good news? would i know if i was bombing? is it possible to be doing a good job and rarely hear about it, or is that an ominous sign?

you should have had some feedback and an official evaluation before you came off orientation. if not, ask your original preceptor or some other nurse that you trust what she thinks you should work on. as far as the "atta girls" -- good for you. pay attention to what earned them -- that's something you're doing right.

no news is usually good news. you should never hear for the first time that you're doing something wrong when you sit down for your evaluation, so hopefully you've got no glaring deficiencies.